After a spate of reformations by many iconic acts from the early-’90s vanguard, as well as an explosion of the hero-worshipping new wave from the Californian scene, it’s safe to say the shoegaze/grunge aesthetic is back
After a spate of reformations by many iconic acts from the early-’90s vanguard, as well as an explosion of the hero-worshipping new wave from the Californian scene, it’s safe to say the shoegaze/grunge aesthetic is back in the biggest way possible. Flying the flag on the local front are firebrand three-piece Iowa, who have been tearing up Melbourne’s underground since the release of their debut, green-waxed, seven inch midway through the year. Not ones to rest on their laurels, the lads are quick to follow up with the release of another double A-side, Lose Yourself , this time stamped in red. “I guess with this band it’s just doing what we’ve always wanted to, just playing the music live and loud,” states bassist Jordan Barczak, “not paying too much attention to the protocol for releases or worrying about radio play or anything like that.”
The genesis of Iowa stems from a mutual appreciation for the big, abrasive guitar sounds put out by the likes of Jesus & Mary Chain, Spacemen 3 and Sonic Youth. “It was quite organic I guess, we had no preconceptions of the sort of sound we wanted to create,” Jordan explains, “we really just started playing the type of music we all grew up loving, like all that early ’90s guitar sound.”
Before bursting forth onto Melbourne’s live circuit, the lads grew quite comfortable in the rehearsal space environment, which in turn in turn allowed for a relatively smooth recording process. “We recorded around this time last year, before we even played our first show,” Jordan recalls. “We went in with demos – just what we laid down in rehearsals with two mics and ProTools, just to capture everything and pick up on what I suppose you’d call the ‘happy accidents’,” Jordan laughs. With the foundations in place, the band called upon the talents of local producer Jack Farley, who had previously captured the expansive guitars of acts such as Beaches and Love Of Diagrams.
The recording process held true to the Iowa work ethos. “Everything was pretty much done in the one take,” Jordan explains, “we kept it to minimal overdubs, pretty much just the vocals really.” The recording sessions proved to be abundantly fruitful, with the new release Lose Yourself (not to be confused with Eminem’s Academy Award-winning track) being born from a little free time during the sessions. “That was pretty much the first time we ever played it,” he states.
“Dylan (singer and guitarist) bought out the riff. He had in mind the idea to record a spontaneous track and said ‘let’s just record and see what happens.’ We had a spare half hour so we laid it down in three takes,” he explains. “What ended up on record was the second take, so the second time we ever played the song,” Jordan says with a wry smile. “The next Wednesday we went in to rehearsal and couldn’t remember any of it, so we had to listen back and relearn out parts,” he laughs.
The fruits of Iowa’s intensive labour were of a standard too damn good to be passed off as mere demos, so the group began to think outside the box for their distribution strategy. “We got it mastered and we’re really happy with it all, we thought ‘what are we gonna do with these seven songs?’” Jordan muses. “We figured the recording cost hardly anything, so we thought ‘let’s put our money into something we really want to do’, putting out these seven inches over the course of a few months.”
The strategy has seemed to have paid off so far, with the seven inches providing a tangible item for the band’s fans, and the free download option garnering a broad range of exposure, winning new fans in the process. “Yeah Bandcamp is an awesome way of getting your music out there,” Jordan explains. “We tried out options like iTunes, but giving the fans a choice of downloading it, along with a link to buy the seven inch is the better option I think.”
Being thrust into the blogosphere has resulted in exposure in the most surprising of places, “We’re really fortunate, just this week we got coverage by a Brazilian shoegaze site,” Jordan says with a sense of bewilderment, “after that we began to see the downloads skyrocket upward, and since how we can track where people are downloading it, we’re seeing it pop up in places like France, Estonia, Brazil, America, all these places around the world.”
While the purveyors of grunge are busy conquering the world in the digital realm, it’s well worth heading along to experience them in their natural habitat, just be sure to pack the earplugs.
IOWA launch their rad new red-vinyl Lose Yourself/Reasons 7” at The Old Bar this Friday November 26. They’re joined by Handhell, Mass Cult and Liam Stewart.